Einstein discovered a “new physics” – relativity by using thought experiments.
This week’s article is a thought experiment. If you let it, it will change the way you approach achieving big goals and making changes that stay with you for years to come.
Have you ever heard of Buridan’s ass?
There once was an ass.
Before I go there though, would you be really honest with me?
Do you ever find yourself wanting to eat better, move more, feel better, make more, connect better?… And then try to fix it – ALL AT THE SAME TIME?
So you get on that juice cleanse, ayurvedic food plan, or keto diet. AND sign up for the HIIT, SoulCycle, BodySculpt, 5 days a week program.
AND, to reconnect with your partner, you spend 20 hours looking into a weekend wellness getaway that costs less than $1000 for two nights.
AND you are reminded that you don’t make enough so you double your lead acquisition target for the next month.
So you launch “Project New Life”, and that first day feels SIMPLY MARVELOUS!
You don’t quite know how you were finally able to break out of being stuck in inaction and daydreaming. Whatever it was, you’re very grateful! You are finally in motion! Hallelujah!!
Week 1&2 ROCK! Your mind is filled with visions of your future self and you’re riding that wave.
Week 3 (or 4): Instead of curling up in your fluffy blanket with some extra buttery popcorn and your favourite drink, you are hauling ass at the gym. Instead of having weekend crepes with wild berry fruit spread & whipped cream, you are munching on rice cakes (please tell me that’s not you). And instead of enjoying a lazy Sunday, you are stirring pots at 10 p.m. (meal prep just took 6 hrs – yup).
You have no time, no energy and no joy. Your little comforts are gone.
Coffee in bed – gone.
A wine glass after work – can’t have.
A lazy weekend with a book – out the window.
Brunch with friends – no rice cakes there.
Life feels like one giant chore. And you are like Sisyphus (the Greek dude that rolled a giant boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down every time he neared the top – for eternity).
YOU ARE NOT HAPPY – AT ALL. In fact, you are bitter and resentful.
And your future self who got you all inspired in the first place? Connection lost. Your rich, connected, fit and fulfilled self? F**K it!
All of that is way too far into the future. And 3 weeks already FEELS LIKE FOREVER.
So you talk yourself into “giving yourself a break”. After all, you’ve been working hard and you deserve it.
And you do. The one day becomes 3 and before you know it, “Project New Life” is now shelved until further notice.
“Project New Life” is an open tab in the back of your mind, something you will get to – one day.
This icky dissatisfied yearning feeling builds again slowly, until the next cycle when you “finally decide” to launch the Updated & Improved Project New Life.
On & on you go – FOR YEARS!
Does this sound familiar?
WHY THE MORE YOU TRY, THE FURTHER YOU GET FROM YOUR GOALS
This brings us back to Buridan’s ass (I haven’t forgotten).
There once was an ass who was very very hungry, and very very thirsty. He had a stack of hay to his right and a pail of water to his left. And he stood exactly in the middle. Lucky.
He turned to the right, but then thought, but I am thirsty. He turned to the left, and then thought, but I am hungry. He died right where he was, because he couldn’t choose. Unlucky.
It isn’t about luck though, it is about choice.
And since you want it all, you feel like you CAN’T choose.
The new year starts; you watch Jocko Willink; you wake up with that jolt of energy; and you want to use it – to its fullest. You want to travel at the speed of sound to your envisioned future. It almost feels like a need. YOU WANT IT ALL, and YOU WANT IT NOW!
So you take it all on. It is overwhelming & no fun. You can’t sustain it. You drop it (for now). You still want it. It nags at you until finally you have another go.
THE COUNTER INSTINCTIVE PRINCIPLE TO MAKING BIG CHANGES AND BUILDING HABITS THAT STICK
Pick Anything, As Long As It Is ONE Thing
For the next 6 weeks, I want you to tackle ONE THING ONLY.
Yes, not one week; not even 3 weeks.
You heard me right: 6 weeks.
This means, if you are tackling your eating habits, this does not include your workout habits, your work habits, your relationships. You will not take on anything else.
Pick something that:
Aligns with your top 4 wants (if you are an initiate) or your vision/strategic goals (if you’ve identified them).
You really desire to get going in your life.
You feel is really holding you back in your life.
When you tackle, will automatically move you towards what you want in many other areas, without you putting any additional effort (we’ll write an article about this in depth).
Honestly, here’s the thing, so long as:
- it is something that is important to you,
- it will improve how you think, feel, perform or live,
it doesn’t matter that much which option you choose.
Flip a coin. Write your choices on little pieces of paper, fold and pick one. It doesn’t matter.
You are choosing for 6 weeks, not for eternity.
If you are experiencing resistance,
If the first thought that popped into your mind is: “but Mike, 6 weeks is wayyyy too long!” or “Mike, there’s not enough time”,
You are not alone.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a month. We overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.”- The Long View – Matthew Kelly
Pause for a moment.
Bring to your mind a big goal that you’ve been wanting to achieve for a while.
How long has it been since you’ve had the desire to achieve this goal, or make this change? Has it been a year, 2, 5 or even 10 years?
Think about all the times you’ve started and stopped on that goal. How many times did you try to take on too many things at once? How many times did you overload yourself?
Now, in those years, imagine you picked this one goal only for a short time and started slower with it and built momentum over time. Would you have achieved it by now?
Chances are… yes.
Do you remember the children’s story of the rabbit and the turtle?
You do?! Thank your mom for me for a job well done.
I’m gonna tell you anyway.
The cocky Mr. Rabbit made fun of the Missy Turtle for being so slow. So boring! So, she challenged him to a race. The rabbit ran fast until the midway point, then he got hot and tired and couldn’t see the turtle anywhere, so he thought to himself: “hmmmm, I’ll take a little nap”. His little nap became a big slumber. And when he woke up, the turtle had reached the finish line already.
It is true: slow and steady does win the race.
See, each of the goals and habits that you set out to achieve requires a change in how you live your life. Your whole life needs to change to include this new thing you have decided is very important to you.
When you take one thing at a time, you can still have a lot of the things that bring you fun and comfort.
AND, when you slowly get to know a new habit or goal, as you would a new acquaintance that later becomes a friend, you can unlock the enjoyment of the thing itself (which is ultimately what will help you maintain it on the longer term).
So, before you go into your next task of the day, take a moment and choose one thing you really want to get moving on and give yourself six weeks to get it going.
Allow yourself and your life to gradually change and create room for it.
I hope you found value in this week’s blog! Until next time, much love.
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